GROS ISLET, St Lucia, CMC – A scintillating Darren Sammy cameo helped Windward Islands overpower beleaguered Barbados and keep alive their chances of reaching the playoffs of the Caribbean Twenty20.
Chasing 141 for victory at the Beausejour Cricket Stadium on Thursday night, the Windwards were floundering at 57 for five in the ninth over before Sammy arrived to uncork a blistering 41 and carry his side home with an over to spare.
He shared an exhilarating sixth wicket stand of 70 with Liam Sebastien whose run-a-ball unbeaten 33 proved invaluable to the Windwards’ fortunes.
Barbados, fighting to stave off elimination, were in with a chance with 40 required from the last four overs but pacers Tino Best and Javon Searles gave up expensive overs to seal their side’s fate.
The triumph carried the Windwards to 12 points alongside Guyana, and the two teams will now square off in the feature game of today night’s doubleheader for a spot in the playoffs.
Barbados, meanwhile, slumped to their fourth loss on the trot, ending their already slim hopes of advancing.
Choosing to bat first, they produced perhaps their best showing of the tournament as Kyle Mayers struck 37 and Shamarh Brooks, 21, to raise a decent total of 140 for seven off 20 overs.
Off-spinner Shane Shillingford (2-29) and medium pacer Sammy (2-33) finished with two wickets apiece.
Captain Dwayne Smith’s wretched form continued at the top of the order as he notched his fifth straight single digit score when he top edged Sammy to Delorn Johnson at backward square for three at eight for one in the third over.
His opening partner Justin Brathwaite promised much when he cleared the ropes at mid-wicket with Sammy’s next delivery but skied the first ball of the West Indies captain’s next over to Johnson Charles at mid-on to depart for ten at 19 for two.
Shane Dowrich then stroked 20 from 19 balls and Roston Chase, 18 from 22, repairing the damage in a careful 31-run, third wicket stand off 32 deliveries.
But Charles, called upon for one over of his unpractised medium pace, made the breakthrough when he claimed Dowrich with a chest-high return catch and Chase stepped onto his stumps as he played back to left-arm spinner Garey Mathurin, to follow soon afterward.
Rocking at 69 for four in the 12th over, Barbados required something special and got it courtesy of a 51-run, fifth stand off 29 balls between Mayers and Brooks.
Striking the ball cleanly, the left-handed Mayers smashed four sixes – mostly straight hits – in his 21-ball knock while Brooks struck a four and a massive straight six in 19 balls at the crease.
Shillingford eventually accounted for both batsmen to skied catches as they looked for quick runs in the late overs and Ashley Nurse brandished his bat for 15 not out off 10 balls, to provide late impetus.
The Windwards stumbled out of the blocks with Miles Bascombe’s poor run continuing as he pulled seamer Carlos Brathwaite to Searles at short mid-wicket to depart for one at two for one in the second over.
Charles was disastrously run out for eight at 18 for two and when Andre Fletcher’s firm drive was brilliantly held by Smith in the fifth over, the Windwards were sinking at 25 for three.
Smith, who picked up three for 27 from his four overs, then knocked over Keddy Lesporis for eight and Devon Smith for 19, after the left-hander stroked three boundaries in 13 balls at the crease, to leave the Windwards deeper in chaos at 57 for five in the ninth over.
Entered Sammy and Sebastien and they set about restoring order with sensible batting, starting slowly before chasing the big shots. Sammy faced 28 balls, hitting two fours and four sixes while Sebastien cracked four fours in a matured knock.
However, with the required run rate climbing to over 11-an-over, both batsmen abandoned caution for adventure. Sebastien found the boundary twice in succession with “switch hits” at the start of the 15th over from Sulieman Benn, and Sammy finished off by launching the left-arm spinner over long-on for six as 19 runs came.
With the frenzied 7 000 strong partisan crowd chanting his name, Sammy greeted Best’s return to the attack with a boundary over cover and a six over long-on off consecutive balls and then cleared the ropes at long-on with two massive strikes off the first two deliveries of the next over from Searles.
He missed another heave next up and was bowled, leaving Barbados with a small glimmer of hope but it was erased by the plucky Sebastien and Lyndon James, whose straight hit for four off Smith ended the game in emphatic fashion.